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March 10, 2008

Spitzer’s folly

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/spitzers_folly/

He stands close to ruin’s precipice, this tireless crusader and once-charmed politician reduced to a notation on a federal affidavit: Client 9.

The ascent and descent of Eliot Spitzer’s career have been dizzying. He was the brainy kid who graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School and became an avenging state attorney general, hunting down Wall Street malefactors with a moralistic fervor that sounded pitch-perfect. Everywhere he found “betrayals of the public trust” that were “shocking” and “criminal.”

Then he ran for governor in 2006 and seized a vast electoral mandate. Reformers chortled at the thought of this young bull with a national reputation stomping about the calcified halls of Albany.

Mr. Spitzer cast himself, self-consciously, as the alpha male, with a belief in the clarifying power of confrontation. Long predawn runs, fierce basketball games: He did nothing at half-speed. “Listen, I’m a steamroller,” he told a State Assembly leader in his first days as governor, adding an unprintable adjective into the mix for emphasis.

Soon enough, his enemies and even admirers and friends came to affix another adjective to his name: reckless. So often the new governor seemed to accumulate enemies for sport, to threaten rivals with destruction when an artful compromise and a disingenuous slap on the back might do just as well.

“I am not naturally suited to this job,” he told a reporter recently, and perhaps he knew more than he was letting on.

The tawdry nature of his current troubles — to be caught on tape arranging a hotel-room liaison with a high-priced call girl, according to law enforcement officials — shocked even his harshest critics, though not all were surprised that he would risk so much.

“Here’s a guy who won an overwhelming electoral landslide and has inflicted fatal wounds on himself publicly and privately,” said Douglas A. Muzzio, a political scientist at Baruch College and a student of the state’s politics. “I’m not a psychologist, but this is just utterly, completely reckless.”

The assumed end of Eliot Spitzer the public figure has been all over the Web today. I found this story from the NY Times and this piece—“after 9 on the night before Valentine’s Day when she finally arrived, a young brunette named Kristen. She was 5-foot-5, 105 pounds. Pretty and petite.”—particularly interesting.

For more eye-popping revelations, see this bit at The Huffington Post, which explains that Kristen was no Divine Brown. Some of the Emperor Club’s call girls, rated in diamonds, cost as much as $3,100 an hour. This is a truly sad, sickening and, yes, prurient story. We can expect to hear a lot about Eliot’s mess for months to come.

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